Warning: This empowering, body positive proclamation may just encourage you to love your body more than ever. Beauty and lifestyle blogger Nià Pettitt was selected for Aerie's new swimwear campaign in 2017, and recently posted a blog post about her experience with the anti-photoshopping retailer. In the photos, she slays in a white swimsuit in an unretouched photo that shows off her stretch marks and body acne.
When Pettitt, who is 20 years old and goes by the @niathelight Insta handle, posted the campaign images on her personal page, she shared a heartfelt, intimate story about how she struggled with accepting her acne and her stretch marks for years.
"I would always cover up and feel ashamed of my skin," she wrote. "In changing rooms, I'd always deter from looking too intensely at myself or I'd end up pointing out every single flaw on my skin. I've had family members emphasize it to me at occasions and it took me so long to finally embrace and accept it."
So many of us know this feeling and scenario all too well.
But not retouching women like Pettit isn't new for Aerie. The brand opted to no longer edit photos as of 2014 and the decision to rep real life has paid off handsomely, since sales have soared, according to Mashable.
But it's what Pettitt, who clocks over 400,000 Insta followers, said next in the caption that was even more empowering. She encouraged others who may be currently battling the same thoughts that she was once experienced to not be embarrassed by perceived flaws and to love their bodies and embrace them.
"Yet, despite all of that, I am now about to be all over America with @aerie flaunting my lines of love," she continues in the post. "If you have them, ROCK them. Look in the mirror the next time you get dressed and tell every stretch mark and every acne scar that it is a part of the magic that makes you, you. Wear that dress without worrying about what people will think. Wear that bikini without hesitation. You got this baby girl."
What a beautiful, hands-in-the-air proclamation.
It is so refreshing that Pettit was able to feel comfortable with her body "as is" on the set of a national campaign — and have a brand celebrate what society perceives as "flaws."
We have to take a moment to commend Aerie for its commitment to supporting women's natural bodies with their "no Photoshop" policy in favor of spotlighting beauty and bodies IRL. In an interview with Cosmo, Pettit revealed that the shoot was foreign territory for her but in the best possible way.
"I've never done a shoot where they let you be 100 percent yourself," she said. "There's usually such a focus on makeup or a glam squad, but Aerie is all about being natural, and I hadn't experienced that."
Pettitt was also proud of herself, rightfully so, for not allowing her prior feelings about her body prevent her from taking part in the shoot. She said, "I just really pat myself on the back because I could have easily said no... because of my insecurities, but I didn't let them control me on that day."
Her message of loving yourself and your "flaws" is the best thing you'll read all day. And hopefully her words will help us all love our bodies and ourselves a little more.